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Eastside Legislators Weigh In On Proposed Carbon Tax

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

Legislative reaction in eastern Washington to Washington Governor Jay Inslee’s proposal to levy a carbon tax next year ranges from cool to tepid.

The governor on Thursday said the state should dip into its reserve account to raise nearly a billion dollars for education next year. That would satisfy the state Supreme Court, which ruled recently that a new legislative plan to fully fund basic education is satisfactory, but doesn’t start early enough.

The governor says the carbon tax would raise money to refill the state’s reserve fund.

Republicans say a carbon tax would drive away businesses. And, says Senate Republican Leader Mark Schoesler, Washington is not a huge carbon emitting state.

“We’re a hydro state. Seventy-odd percent of our power comes from hydro. If we were a 70-some percent coal state like Indiana, I’d worry about our contributions to pollution, but we’re just not there,” Schoesler said.

Schoesler was speaking at a legislative forum sponsored by Greater Spokane Incorporated.

Sen. Andy Billig (D-Spokane) said the governor is proposing a carbon tax for the right reasons, to protect the state’s environment. And he cautioned that Democrats, despite slim majorities now in both chambers, would need support from Republicans to pass a new tax.

“So I don’t think that you’re going to see some crazy, radical plan come out of the legislative. We’ve got narrow majorities," Billig said. "The fact is there are carbon plans that are supported by Republican legislators as well as Democratic legislators and we’ve had some discussions with those legislators.”

Other legislators at the forum included Rep. Mike Volz (R-Spokane) and Rep. Larry Springer (D-Kirkland).